Getting Started

Private foundations and corporations represent unique audiences with distinct motivations and processes. As you consider what funding sources might be a match, these sections will help you adapt and adjust your approach in order to create the most competitive proposal possible that goes to the right funding source.

Define the idea

Private funders are generally focused on creating impact with their funding, often in particular priority areas. The most successful proposals clearly identify the project’s focus and articulate clearly the impact the research will have on a priority area. With the perspective of a potential funder, you can ask yourself several pointed questions:

  • What problem do we propose to solve? What is it important to solve this problem within the proposal’s timeframe?
  • What will the project outcome be? What effect with this outcome have outside of Rice, in Houston, or beyond?
  • What methods will we use to achieve our goal?
  • How is my research unique and distinctive from that of other institutions?
  • Who is the director of the project, and how are they uniquely qualified to carry out the proposal?
  • What is our plan for funding after the completion of the proposed timeline?

Consider potential funders

There is not one path toward discovering potential funders. As you search for funding opportunities, we advise you to:

  • Consider your professional network.
  • Evaluate existing funding in your field.
  • Talk with colleagues about their experiences.
  • Review articles in research journals (funders are often acknowledged for their support).
  • Note supporters of webinars and events.
  • Search the Foundation Directory, a national directory of private foundations (contact for login information).
  • Sign up to receive notifications about research opportunities by joining Rice's Research Opportunities listserv.

Once you have identified prospective funders, review whom and what projects the foundation or corporation has previously supported to determine how closely aligned the foundation's interest is to your project and the range of its funding potential:

  • Closely review the foundation's website.
  • If available, review the foundation's annual report and other publications.
  • Look closely at the foundation's giving pattern by reviewing its Form 990 tax return for the past few years, each of which includes information on funding recipients and amount.
  • Analyze the foundation's giving capacity to determine an appropriate request.

Limited submissions are requests for proposal that are limited by the number of proposals Rice can submit. Review for the latest open RFPs and check back frequently for new calls. If you are interested in taking part in the internal selection process, submit the title of your proposal through the site and, if necessary, a one-page project summary, using our Internal Review Criteria as a guide.

Check in with OCFR

The OCFR foundation relations or corporate relations team can learn more about your research and impact area, provide you with feedback on your preliminary list, offer initial ideas, and work with you to add new ideas and formulate a strategy.

Where to go from here

With a solid idea and list of potential funders, you may be ready to consider your proposal. Read some tips and guidance on that process here.